This humanoid robot can drive a car

Musashi in action. — Photos courtesy of Kento Kawaharazuka/University of Tokyo

TOKYO: Under the direction of Kento Kawaharazuka, assistant professor at the JSK Robotics Laboratory at the University of Tokyo, researchers have developed a humanoid robot called Musashi, now capable of driving a small car specially adapted for this purpose.

Musashi has a human-like joint and muscle structure, as well as cameras in each of its eyes and force sensors in its hands and feet.

Artificial intelligence converts what it sees and feels into driving behaviour in real time, and in relation to speed, road signs, the position of other vehicles, and so on.

This musculoskeletal humanoid robot is already capable of performing basic driving maneuvers.

It can't yet drive in traffic, but it can drive in a straight line and turn left or right, without exceeding 5kph for the time being, and on closed circuits only. These initial tests were outlined in IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine.

For its creator, however, a humanoid robot at the controls of a car, operating in real traffic conditions and in total safety, is not something we're likely to see soon. In fact, it could be decades before a sufficiently competent robot could really step into the driver's seat.

In addition to Musashi, the JSK Robotics Laboratory is working on other robots whose movements mimic those of human tendons and that are powered by AI to perform specific tasks among humans.
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